Realistic Fiction

The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown by Elizabeth Laird

Charity Brown, raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian sect, is beginning to ponder the meaning of life and God. The Misunderstandings of Charity Brown by ...
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Tree. Table. Book. by Lois Lowry

Newbery author Lois Lowry poignantly depicts a cross-generational friendship in Tree. Table. Book. Tree. Table. Book. by Lois Lowry. Clarion (HarperCollins), 2024, 194 pages. Reading ...
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The Night War by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Night War is the WWII story of a Jewish girl in Paris choosing to be brave when Nazis take everything from her. The Night ...
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Kentucky Derby Book List: Books for Young Horse Lovers

The Kentucky Derby runs every first Saturday of May. Will there be another Triple Crown winner this year? Will an underdog horse come from nowhere ...
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Operation: Happy by Jenni L. Walsh

Operation: Happy is the story of a girl and her dog experiencing the attack on Pearl Harbor and challenges that followed. Operation: Happy: A World ...
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On All Other Nights, edited by Chris Baron, Joshua Levy, and Naomi Milliner

On All Other Nights uses the perspective of 14 authors to detail every step of the Seder Meal observed by Jewish families during Passover (recipes ...
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Offsides by Lori Z. Scott

Dani just wants to play soccer and have the best senior year ever, but she's suddenly alert to the signs of a sex trafficking ring ...
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Olivetti by Allie Millington

Olivetti features an uncommon protagonist—a manual typewriter—with the keys to unravel a mystery. Olivetti by Allie Millington. Feiwel and Friends, 2024, 246 pages. Reading Level: ...
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The Book Scavenger Series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

The Book Scavenger Series is an engaging middle grades mystery series for book lovers and puzzle aficionados. Book Scavenger Series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Square ...
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*One Big Open Sky by Lesa Cline-Ransome

One Big Open Sky fills a history gap with the story of black settlers heading west in wagon trains. *One Big Open Sky by Lesa ...
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*Ferris by Kate DiCamillo

Ferris, the latest novel by two-time Newbery author Kate DiCamillo, embraces a world full of sorrow but ruled by love. *Ferris by Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick, ...
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Something Like Home by Andrea Beatrix Arango

A poignant novel-in-verse explores the question: "What is home when your world turns upside-down?" Something Like Home, Andrea Beatrix Arango, Random House Books for Young ...
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Finding Normal by Stephanie Faris

In Finding Normal, a 12-year-old girl must learn to make a new life when her home is made uninhabitable by a flood. Finding Normal by ...
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Max in the House of Spies by Adam Gidwitz

Max in the House of Spies begins the story of an 11-year-old German boy who believes he has what it takes to be a secret ...
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Across so Many Seas by Ruth Behar

Across So Many Seas tracks the destiny of a Jewish family exiled from Spain in 1492. Across So Many Seas by Ruth Behar. Nancy Paulsen ...
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Yours from the Tower by Sally Nichols

In Yours from the Tower, three young ladies overcome obstacles and find true love in late 19th-century England. Yours from the Tower by Sally Nichols. ...
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Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Raney Hopson

The Newbery Honor novel Eagle Drums portrays the mythical origin of a cherished tradition of the Iñupiat people. Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Raney Hopson. Roaring ...
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Between Two Brothers by Crystal Allen

In Between Two Brothers, a boy struggles for forgiveness and reconciliation after his older brother is seriously injured in a traffic accident. Between Two Brothers ...
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2024 Newbery Buzz #4: Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

Simon Sort of Says was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Could it win the Newbery? We're continuing our long-running Newbery ...
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Newbery Roundup 1: Jawbreaker, When Sea Becomes Sky, Duel

Two weeks from now (January 22), the American Library Association will announce their Youth Media Award winners, including the Newbery and Caldecott. We’ve kept an ...
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Back to the Bright Before by Katherin Nolte

Back to the Bright Before is a touching tale that mixes medieval imagery with a contemporary story of guilt and redemption. Back to the Bright ...
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Remember Us by Jacqueline Woodson

Remember Us is a quiet novel that ponders the conundrum of change and permanence. Remember Us by Jacqueline Woodson. Nancy Paulsen Books (PRH), 2023, 192 ...
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The Winterton Deception 1: Final Word by Janet Sumner Johnson

Final Word introduces the Winterton family, dictionary magnates with lots of money and plenty of secrets to hide. The Winterton Deception 1: Final Word by ...
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A Stubborn Sweetness by Katherine Paterson

"A Stubborn Sweetness" is one of 15 short stories that celebrate the truth, beauty, and goodness of the real meaning of Christmas. A Stubborn Sweetness ...
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Nothing Else but Miracles by Kate Albus

Nothing Else but Miracles features a spunky and imaginative protagonist making the most of hardships on the WWII home front. Nothing Else but Miracles by ...
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*Enemies in the Orchard by Dana VanderLugt

In Enemies in the Orchard, an American girl and a German POW discover a shared humanity among the tragedy of war. *Enemies in the Orchard ...
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*The Vanderbeekers Ever After by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeeker family faces their greatest challenge yet in this last volume of a beloved series. The Vanderbeekers Ever After by Karina Yan Glaser. Clarion ...
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Code of Silence and Back Before Dark by Tim Shoemaker

A heart-pounding mystery series, with hidden twists and turns at every corner and a powerful message. Note: this is a guest review. See below for ...
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The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

The Lost Library is thin on theme, but warm hearted and family-friendly. The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass. Feiwel and Friends, 2023, ...
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Dust by Dusti Bowling

Dust is the story of an asthma sufferer challenged to “use her breath” to fight a wrong. Dust by Dusti Bowling. Little, Brown, 2023, 328 ...
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The Switch by Roland Smith

A 13-year-old boy must help his large family survive an ElectroMagnetic Pulse in The Switch. The Switch by Roland Smith. Scholastic, 2022, 303 pages. Reading ...
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Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan

Sparrow Being Sparrow introduces a likeable heroine with some impulsive ways that are open to correction. Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan, illustrated by Elysia ...
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Most of P. G. Wodehouse book cover

The Most of P. G. Wodehouse by P. G. Wodehouse

An excellent introduction to P. G. Wodehouse via his short stories and one delightful novella. The Most of P.G. Wodehouse by P. G. Wodehouse, Touchstone, 2000.  ...
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How to Stay Invisible by Maggie C. Rudd

In How to Stay Invisible, an abandoned boy attempts to make it on his own and discovers he needs other people. How to Stay Invisible ...
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Ginny Off the Map by Caroline Hickey

In Ginny off the Map, a geography-obsessed sixth-grader learns to meet people where they are and find “true north” in her own family. Ginny Off ...
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In the Tunnel by Julie Lee

In the Tunnel takes readers into the savagery and family upheaval of the Korean War . In the Tunnel by Julie Lee. Holiday House, 2023, ...
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Buffalo Flats by Martine Leavitt

Buffalo Flats takes readers to the Northwest Territory of Canada, for an unforgettable story of spiritual growth and romance. Buffalo Flats by Martine Leavitt. Margaret ...
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The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson

Noting one important consideration, The Firefly Summer is an enjoyable light read with a theme of family solidarity. The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson. Simon ...
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Gladys Hunt on Diversity

“Teacher, do you have any books with pictures of kids that look like me?” Originally published on the Tumblon website, October 10, 2009 Probably more ...
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*The Labors of Hercles Beal by Gary Schmidt

The title character of The Labors of Hercules Beal works through his grief by duplicating, in contemporary terms, the 12 "labors" of his mythical namesake. ...
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*Bright April by Marguerite De Angeli

Themes of loving nature, loving one's neighbor, and loving Truth are woven through Bright April, a story that gracefully handles racism and the dignity of ...
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Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In Iceberg, a 12-year-old stowaway experiences history's worst maritime disaster. Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic, 2023, 339 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 ...
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School Trip by Jerry Craft

School Trip, a companion novel to Newbery-winning New Kid, launches the Riverdale Academy students on a tour of Paris. School Trip by Jerry Craft. Quill ...
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Not an Easy Win by Chrystal D. Giles

Not an Easy Win is the encouraging story of a displaced young man finding purpose and life lessons in the game of chess. Not an ...
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Honey and Me by Meira Drazin

Honey and Me explores the fun and challenge of middle-grade friendship in the context of the Orthodox Jewish community. Honey and Me by Meira Drazin. ...
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All My Rage by Saaba Tahir

All My Rage, winner of the 2023 Printz Award, follows a pair of Pakistani-American teens from uncertainty through trauma to stability and hope. All My ...
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Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Spare and sensitive, Liar & Spy is a warm-hearted middle-grades story about two lonely boys who form a deep, abiding friendship. Liar & Spy by ...
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*Dragonfly Eyes by Cao Wenxuan

Dragonfly Eyes is a slowly-unfolding, beautiful picture of family love and loyalty during the stressful days of China’s Cultural Revolution. *Dragonfly Eyes by Cao Wenxuan, ...
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In the Blue by Erin Hourigan

In the Blue gently explores what it is like for a child to experience the depression of a loved one. In the Blue by Erin ...
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2023 Newbery Winner: Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson

Freewater, this year's Newbery Medal winner, is as much an adventure tale as little-known history. Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson. Little, Brown (James Patterson Presents), 2022, ...
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cover of Like Me

Like Me by Laura Wifler

A young boy recounts a typical day in the life of his family, which includes a younger brother who has physical and mental disabilities. Like ...
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When Winter Robeson Came

When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods

History and a summer adventure combine in an engaging, slim, novel-in-verse for middle grade readers. When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods. Nancy Paulsen Books, ...
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The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh

The Lost Year uses multiple voices to narrate a sad chapter of history: Stalin’s deliberate starving of Ukraine. The Lost Year: A Survival Story of ...
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cover of my brother is away

*My Brother Is Away by Sara Greenwood

My Brother Is Away offers an empathetic glimpse into what it's like, from the child's perspective, to have a brother (or sister) off in jail. ...
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A Place for Peter by Elizabeth Yates

A Place for Peter is a good choice for boys who are avid readers and enjoy character-driven, literary coming-of-age stories, or families who are looking ...
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The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum

“Hoodie Rosen” introduces teen readers to the Orthodox Jewish world and the reality of antisemitism. The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum. ...
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Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls by Atinuke

"Too Small Tola" returns in a second volume of this warm-hearted series of Nigerian family life. Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls by ...
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love and laughter

Love and Laughter Book List

A Valentine's Day list of books that celebrate family love and wholesome romance. It’s the season of hearts and flowers and chocolate. Valentine’s Day is ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz Roundup #2: Frizzy, How to Build a Human, and Attack of the Black Rectangles

The American Library Association will announce the winners of its very influential Youth Media Awards, headed by the Newbery and Caldecott. Since we can't help ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #3: Northwind

Might Gary Paulsen's last novel be a sentimental favorite for Newbery recognition? The State of Nature Betsy: Janie, this is only the second Paulsen book ...
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Newbery Roundup #1: Freestyle, Swim Team, and Maizy Chen’s Last Chance

Three novels for middle-grades that may be under consideration for this year's top prize Freestyle by Gale Galligan. Graphix; (Scholastic), 2022, 322 pages. (Ages 10-14) ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #2: The Door of No Return

Back for our second buzz, Janie and Betsy talk over a troubling but moving verse novel. Out of Africa Janie: Kwame Alexander scored a gold ...
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The Lucky Ones by Linda Williams Jackson

In The Lucky Ones, an impoverished family in the rural south takes a big step up during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. The ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #1: A Rover’s Story

It's that time again, readers! The hour for selecting winners of the world's most prestigious children's book award draws near. Redeemed Reader has little (that ...
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Out of Range by Heidi Lang

Out of Range puts three warring sisters into a life-or-death situation that will destroy their bond—and perhaps their lives—or restore it. Out of Range by ...
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Belittled Women by Amanda Sellet

Belittled Woman features a contemporary Meg, Jo, and Amy reluctantly participating in their mother’s pet project: a tourist attraction reenacting scenes from a certain 19th-century ...
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Looking for True by Tricia Springstubb

In Looking for True, A lonely boy and a frustrated girl find common cause in rescuing a dog from its neglectful owner. Looking for True ...
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*Berliners by Vesper Stamper

Berliners is the story of a family scarred by war, politics, and false ideology in postwar Germany. *Berliners by Vesper Stamper. Knopf, 2022, 413 pages. ...
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Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure is a realistic but heartwarming animal tale of loyalty and friendship. Haven: A Small Cat’s Big Adventure by Megan ...
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Cover of The Star that Always Stays

*The Star that Always Stays by Anna Rose Johnson

In a debut novel reminiscent of Maud Hart Lovelace and Laura Ingalls Wilder, a young girl discovers new friends, family, and hope. *The Star that ...
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The Rat Queen by Pete Hautman

Though not for every reader, The Rat Queen effectively exposes the harm caused to individual souls by hiding or excusing their own sins. The Rat ...
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A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga

A Rover's Story employs an unusual protagonist to celebrate science, space exploration, and humanity. A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga. Balzer+Bray, 2022, 294 pages. Reading ...
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The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

The Door of No Return uses beautifully modulated verse to communicate the humanity of the Ashanti people and the horrors of the African slave trade. ...
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Wildoak by C. C. Harrington

Wildoak is a gentle story about a girl finding a voice and a cause in the natural world. Wildoak by C. C. Harrigan. Scholastic, 2022, ...
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Violet and Jobie in the Wild by Lynne Rae Perkins

Mouse siblings Violet and Jobie must suddenly fend for themselves in a world both terrifying and lovely. Violet & Jobie in the Wild by Lynn ...
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The Vanderbeekers on the Road by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekrs, one of our favorite families, is on the road to discovery, opportunity, and possibly romance. The Vanderbeekers on the Road by Karina Yan ...
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Ride On by Faith Erin Hicks

Ride On is an equestrian graphic novel that horse aficionados will devour. Ride On by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second, 2022, 218 pages. Reading Level: ...
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Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd

Hummingbird features a plucky protagonist with a debilitating bone disease—who doesn’t see herself as debilitated. Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd. Scholastic, 2022, 348 pages. Reading Level: ...
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Yonder by Ali Standish

Yonder is a thoughtful and moving historical novel about the nature of heroism. Yonder by Ali Standish. Harper, 2022, 348 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ...
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Lines of Courage by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Lines of Courage follows five young protagonists through the epoch-making carnage of World War I. Lines of Courage by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic Press, 2022, ...
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Brand New Kid by David Almond

Brand New Boy explores the "humanity" of manufactured humans through the eyes of curious middle-school students. Brand New Boy by David Almond, with pictures by ...
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Quick Summer Reads: Treasure Tracks, High Score, and Wretched Waterpark

Three entertaining novels for the adventure-seeker, the heist-lover, and the doom-aficionado. Treasure Tracks by S. A. Rodriguez. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2022, 214 pages. Reading Level: ...
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*Tree Street Kids: Lions to the Rescue! and Mystery in Crooked Creek Woods

The Tree Street Kids series continues as Jack, Ellison, Roger, Ruthie and Midge develop new and better friendships, and also solve a mystery. Tree Street ...
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The Islanders: Search for Treasure by Mary Alice Monroe

The Islanders Series features three friends spending enlightening and adventure-filled summers on an island off the coast of South Carolina. The Islanders: Search for Treasure ...
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*Love and Other Great Expectations by Becky Dean

*Love and Other Great Expectations puts romance in its place as part of life’s great adventure (but not all of it). Love and Other Great ...
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New From Here by Kelly Yang

New from Here looks at the recent pandemic through the perspective of an Asian-American family hoping to escape the virus in California. New from Here ...
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Cookies & Milk by Shawn Amos

Cookies & Milk is an enjoyable fictionalized account of the world’s first chocolate-chip cookie store and the launch of a “famous” business. Cookies & Milk ...
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born behind bars

Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatramen

When Kabir leaves jail at age nine, he enters a world unknown to him: the free world. A delicate and sensitive novel for middle grades. ...
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My Own Lightning by Lauren Wolk

My Own Lightning follows the author’s previous Newbery-honored novel, Wolf Hollow, with a more hopeful conclusion. My Own Lightning by Lauren Wolk. Dutton, 2022, 307 ...
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Rip to the Rescue

Rip to the Rescue is a true-to-life World War II adventure featuring heroic teens and one heroic dog. Rip to the Rescue by Miriam Halahmy. ...
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Each of Us a Universe by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Two girls with big problems draw resilience from each other and the "Magic" of the Universe. Each of Us a Universe by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo ...
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Polly and the Screen Time Overload by Betsy Childs Howard

Polly and the Screen Time Overload gently points young children away from electronic fascinations to the quieter joys of real life. Polly and the Screen ...
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Bestselling YA: A Look at the 2022 Market

Aside from one graphic-novel romance series, novels about death and murder dominate the current YA scene. Where's hope? What are kids reading these days? As ...
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Polo Cowboy by G. Neri

Cole learns to be a polo cowboy despite bullying and prejudice in this interesting follow-up to Ghetto Cowboy. Polo Cowboy by G. Neri and illustrated ...
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The School for Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix

In The School for Whatnots, popular children's author Margaret Peterson Haddix explores how good intentions go awry. The School for Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix. ...
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New Picture Books: Knight Owl, Hello Puddle!, All from a Walnut, Hundred Years of Happiness

Four new picture books take a humorous look at knighthood, explore backyard science, and appreciate grandparents. Knight Owl by Christopher Denise. Little, Brown, 2022,40 pages ...
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Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire

Cress Watercress, a young rabbit suddenly fatherless, finds strength and purpose in this beautifully written tale. Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield. ...
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Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner 

Wake Up Missing mixes science with science fiction: DNA manipulation, nefarious plots, and excitement. Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner. Walker Childrens, 2013. 272 pages. ...
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Itch: the Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter by Simon Mayo  

Solid science adds heft to Itch, a present-day sci-fi novel with elements of an international spy thriller. Itch: the Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter, ...
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Troublemaker by John Cho

Troublemaker honestly pictures generational, cultural, and racial conflict against the background of the Los Angeles riots of 1992. Troublemaker by John Cho. Little, Brown, 2022, ...
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